Madrid is a mecca for art and culture. Its iconic boulevards and avenues combine business and pleasure, fast and slow, traditional and ultra-modern. And with 73 museums (including the renowned Prado Museum), stunning architecture, traditional food, lively markets and great shopping, the capital of Spain is a brilliant holiday destination, sure to hold something special for you.
Things to do in Madrid, Spain
If you want to see a film, watch a theatre show or go shopping in Madrid, then the trendy Gran Via is the place to be! As well as being known for its shopping and entertainment venues, it is renowned for its early 20th Century architecture. Just off the bustling Gran Via, the Plaza de Espana is one of the largest squares in Madrid and a popular destination for tourists and locals alike to sunbathe, relax, eat ice-cream and soak in the vibrant ambience of the city.
Bask in the glory and power of Madrid at La Puerto del Sol, or, ‘Sun Gate’, one of the most important and iconic plazas in Spain. Famously, people celebrate the New Year at the bell tower in the Puerto del Sol i by eating a grape each time the bell strikes for the last twelve seconds of a year. By midnight, you should have eaten all twelve grapes – not an easy feat! If you’re around Madrid on New Year’s Eve, you should give it a try!
Get a taste of Spanish Royalty as you marvel at the grand Palacio Real, or Royal Palace, which for centuries has been the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Even though the current King, Juan Carlos, lives in the humbler Palacio de la Zarzuela, it still used for stately ceremonial events. Just to give you an idea of the scale of the palace, it took twenty-six years to build and there are 2,800 rooms of which only fifty are accessible to the public. The Palacio Real is renowned for its collection of classic Spanish art and it boasts many paintings from Velasquez, Goya and Caravaggio. Whether you are interested in traditional art, beautiful interiors or military history, the Palacio Real is the grandest experience you will have as you travel Madrid!
If you want to understand more about the controversial and artful tradition of bullfighting in Spain, visit Las Ventas Bullring, one of the most famous and notoriously difficult bullrings in the world. Watch some of the greatest living matadors take on a bull with all the elegance, skill and nerve required in this Madrid bullring that attracts aficionados from around the globe.
Marvel at one of the world’s best European art collections at the Prado Museum in Madrid. It has envious collections of the Old Masters such as Botticelli, Tiziano, Rembrandt, El Greco, Goya and Velasquez. But it also has a solid collection of modern art, showcasing some of the best works by modern masters such as Picasso, Dali and Miro. The Prado Museum is the Spanish equivalent of the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in London – a must-see for art lovers and one of the top attractions in Madrid.
Enjoy the neoclassical Plaza Cibeles and its famous Cibeles Fountain as you take a break from sightseeing in Madrid. Spain’s famous architect Ventura Rodrigues built the Cibeles fountain between 1777 and 1782 during the reign of Charles III. It powerfully depicts the Graeco-Roman Goddess Cibeles wielding a sceptre and being pulled by two lions in a chariot. As the Goddess of nature and fertility, she is an important symbol for Madrid as she represents the city’s defiant, virile spirit and fortitude.